FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 11, 2019
WINDHAM COUNTY DELEGATION SEEKING INTERESTED PARTIES ON RURAL BROADBAND BUILDOUT
We know that access to broadband is essential to economic development, education, public safety, and civic engagement. However, existing internet companies do not provide adequate service to many rural areas in Vermont. Without high-speed internet, rural economies wither, young people seek better opportunity elsewhere, and many older Vermonters become more isolated and left behind.
We know connectivity is a top priority in much of Windham County, and we are eager to help our communities access new tools to better connect residents and businesses. The Windham County delegation worked collaboratively this session to ensure the passage of Vermont’s new Rural Broadband Bill, H.513, whose development was led by our delegation members Dover Representative Laura Sibilia in the House and Windham County Senator Becca Balint in the Senate.
H.513 empowers local municipalities to determine the connectivity solutions most appropriate for their communities, and it also provides financing programs to get local initiatives off the ground. This legislation also funds a key technical specialist at the Department of Public Service to support local groups and charges the state with exploring possible viable alternatives such as allowing electric utilities to provide internet service using existing infrastructure. It even streamlines procedures so providers can build broadband access more quickly and cost-effectively to our most rural communities.
There are a few key parts of the bill that we know will be particularly helpful for our communities: the hiring of a point person at the Department of Public Service and the finalizing of the Broadband Innovation Grant Program. When those elements are in place, members of our delegation plan to host a public forum in September with the Department of Public Service for interested communities, residents, and potential Communications Union Districts.
The Windham Regional Commission has agreed to act as a contact recipient for interested parties.
If you would like to be notified of the public forum, please send an email with your contact information to: SeVTBroadband@gmail.com